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I've been called the OG of copywriters for creatives, wink—I hook up women with words as a launch copywriter & brand strategist. Even while raking in more than 7-figures since I've been at it, I believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you.
 
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May 7, 2020

Can’t Hire a Copywriter for Your Launch? 19 Copy Formulas You Need To Drive Conversions

Reading time: 10 min.

So you’ve got a course, new offering, or product up your sleeve … but don’t have the funds to work one-on-one with a creative copywriter to dream and draft up that custom sales funnel, launch sequence, and slew of Facebook ads.

I mean … you’re a pretty decent writer, right?

You know you need to tell a story with your words to promote your offering.

You know to draw in your target … but what intros work best? What must-includes need to claim a spot on your sales page? And good grief, what order does it all go in?

Oooh, y’all got me a good one … I can get real nerdy about this. I LOVE a good copywriting formula—not only does it make your work easier, it makes you more efficient.

Copywriting formulas to drive conversions- Ashlyn Writes

Now it’s taken me years to get to where I know how and when to use them. Do you HAVE to use a copywriting formula every time you write something? No. Just like an efficient calligrapher has her Hunt 101 nibs and her blue pumpkin nib nearby (Pssst. where my calligraphers at?! You know that’s my background!) she may opt to use a brush pen to create art to digitize for a wedding invitation. Same thing. You have your tools nearby, you know what to use when.

But if I were starting from absolute scratch every time I went to type something, it would have taken me such a long time to get to where I am today! The main thing I find formulas to be useful for is helping organize your message. You know when you sit down and feel like it’s fitting an ocean in a teacup? Like you have so much to say and don’t know where to start? This helps you get started and make sense out of all.the.things.

Here’s a moment to take a deep breath and receive the permission to “do less”… ready for it? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every blog post or tweet— you can save time and increase your readership with tested copywriting formulas.

That, my buddy, is a-ok! I’m about to spill the beans on some copywriter best-kept-secrets.

Here are 19 of the best formulas that copywriters like me use when piecing together copy for creative entrepreneurs.

But first, I have two rules-of-thumb:

1. Don’t recreate the wheel

One of the best arguments for outsourcing something like copy is that you’re paying someone for the education they’ve cobbled together over years … and sometimes decades. Sure, it’s just peachy to tackle it yourself, but entrepreneur-life quickly teaches you that it time’s money, honey, and sometimes ya might as well just foot the bill for an expert.

But copywriters gotta make a living too, and aren’t always Walmart prices.

These attention-getting formulas come from the best-of-the-best: they’re battle-tested, compelling, and just plain work. Plus, formulas are uber-productive in my opinion — teach me to shave off time from my day and you’re my friend forever!

Trotting out these copywriting formulas could land you a big productivity boost. Unless you try to use them ALL …

2. The Keep It Simple Rule

I’m about to mic-drop on your Dropbox copywriting file (or Pinterest, or wherever you store learnings) and give you a ton of info.

Can you promise me something?

Keep it simple. If you like some of these? Use ‘em. Try them out in your next email or blog post or funnel. If they don’t work, scrub it. If they do work? Save that formula.

Repeat your winners. Scores of great [copy has] been pulled before it’s begun to payoff. -David Ogilvy

Stick to what you find works for you. Be ruthless about ignoring what doesn’t work.

That’s how you’ll maintain productivity. Ok. Enough chatter. Let’s see those formulas!


1. Prob-Agitate-Solve

Like aviator shades, crisp button-downs, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and good red wine with steak, classics are classic for a reason.

Enter P-A-S.

You may have heard of it before, it’s the go-to gateway drug into copywriting formulas, in my opinion.

Here, you twist the knife. Make the problem more pronounced. What if it doesn’t go away, but instead gets worse … grows … increases … eclipses … takes over.

AH! That’s scarier than a Stranger Things Netflix binge.

P | Present your dreamboat client’s problem to her …

A | Poke the bear a little bit by reminding her she wants solved …

S | … and tell her how YOU solve it.

Like florals for spring, this pattern isn’t ~exactly~ groundbreaking … but as mentioned, à la “Africa” by Toto, it’s a classic. It’s basically your word wardrobe’s little black dress.

BEST FOR:

Almost anything. You can zhush it up for a sales page headline, dress it down for a quick Instagram caption. I mean, get you a formula that can do it all, right? 😉

Example:

Here’s a great email from Melanie Duncan about holiday promotions.

When I opened it in October, holiday promotions were a luxury I would get to dreaming up *if/when* I got that magical extra time in my schedule.

But Melanie’s copy QUICKLY twisted the knife and made me realize I gotta get on this — like, yesterday!

Melanie Duncan email from Ashlyn Writes Copywriting Blog


2. P.A.R.I.S.

I took P-A-S and needed a little more data in there, because I’m one of those rational buyers who will hem and haw and pro and con until I’ve talked myself out of something.

If there isn’t interesting data or facts I can look at to back up WHY I need to think a certain way, I won’t do it.

Thus, P.A.R.I.S.

Problem
Agitation

Remind

Interest (with Data

Click here to read the FULL blog on P.A.R.I.S., or watch the video below:

Origin:

C’est moi. 🙂

Best For:

I personally like it for product descriptions, services pages, and sales pages, but you could freak what you feel and use it many other spots.


3. The Hero’s Journey

American writer and scholar Joseph Campbell pieced together this formula, and you’ve seen it play out since ponytail-and-playdate days: Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and beyond. I talk about him a

Sure, you could deep dive into it and make the formula longer, but here’s the gist.

Ordinary Hero

Call to Adventurous Goal

Conflict & Test

Meeting with a Mentor

Hero Wins

Nutshell? Next time you write a sales page for your course, write it so your client is the hero, you’re the Dumbledore helping them along the way to reach their goal.

For an example, check out this sales page from StoryBrand, a great marketing resource and perennial favorite podcast.

StoryBrand Ashlyn Writes


4. Features-Advantages-Benefits

I love this formula for sales pages, and for emails that introduce your course modules or offerings.

Trade secret: the word “features?” Um, it doesn’t exactly resonate with the emotional part of our brain that navigates purchase power.

D’ya know what does?

Benefits. Advantages.

We’re wired for survival as humans, so paint a picture about all the benefits someone will have AFTER encountering you and your product.

Birchbox is pretty jam-up on this. When you’re describing me makeup, I’ll be honest, I don’t really care what chemical compounds are involved, and what technology went into the brush. Those are features. I want the benefits. Tell me I’ll be prettier. Here’s a great example:

BirchBox Ashlyn Writes


5. Awareness-Comprehension-Conviction-Action (aka the WebMD formula)

Do you ever feel funny, and start searching around on WebMD? We’ve all done it, and we all know it’s the WORST way to self-diagnose … you always feel like you have whatever malady popped up!

But in terms of copywriting, the formula’s genius.

Make your reader aware of the problem …

explain how it affects them …

create a desire and conviction in your reader to get it fixed however you’re recommending …

and call them to take action.

Before-After-Bridge

If B-A-B is the LBD, P-A-S can be the little white dress — related, but different. This little black dress of copywriting can be squeezed into 140 characters or slung through an entire cart close email series for a launch.

“Here’s your little world, where every day, you face a problem …”

“But, imagine if that problem vanished. Forever.

“Here’s how to get there.”

Make sense? Describe the target’s gray, cloudy world with that problem, and then position the pot of gold at the end. Courtney Johnson at Rule Breaker’s Club teaches a great free mini-course on this copy tactic on her website!

I plugged before and after copy on my client Jenna’s course launch sales page!

Ashlyn Carter Copywriting for Jenna Kutcher - Ashlyn Writes


6. 4 Q’s

Writing an about page? Never start off with “Hi, I’m ___!” They won’t listen unless you give them a reason to listen.

Tell them:

  • What I’ve got for you
  • What it’s going to do for ya
  • Who I am
  • What you need to do now

Best prescribed for? About pages and guest blog posts!

Creative copywriter and Atlanta calligrapher and Alabama wedding stationer Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes


7. Attention-Interest-Desire-Action.

Arguably my fave. Email funnel madness here!

This copy formula arguably lays claim to being my favorite. AIDA is a standard copywriting formula, popping up in TV ads, radio ads, sales pages, and emails for years.

I like it ‘cause it’s versatile.

It works for a 4-part email series, or a 14-part email funnel repeated a few times. It works on a sales page, and it works in a simple tweet.


9. AICPBSAWN

Here’s another looooong formula, but follow this one for a multi-email funnel for your upcoming course or product launch!

Attention – Tell me the biggest problem you can solve.

Interest – Why should I be interested?

Credibility – Why listen to you?

Prove – Show me. I want to see social proof.

Benefits – Give me a bulleted list.

Scarcity – Tell me why I can only get this for a short time.

Action – What do I do next?

Warn – What happens if I don’t?

Now – Make me take action pronto!


10. Reader’s Digest Swipe

Reader’s Digest has been around since 1922. Legendary adman John Caples studied up on their approach to see what was included in paragraph one that was so darn addictive. Here’s what he found:

They’re fact-filled.

They state the main idea.

They’re specific.

They’re few adjectives.

They shock a bit.

This is your best-bet formula for hacking out an SEO-keyword filled blog post first paragraph. Here’s an example:

Ashlyn Writes


11. The Stone Method

The Everything Guide to Writing Copy points out that Bob Stone created this formula for sales letters and direct response ads. It’s still a go-getter gem for launch email funnels and sales page copy!

  • Begin with the strongest benefit.
  • Expand on that.
  • Tell in BIG detail what they’ll get.
  • Back it up (I like to use testimonials here!)
  • Tell what will happen to them if they don’t act
  • Sum up the big benefits
  • Give call-to-action

Give Me 5.

One of the biggest parts of copywriting is answering any of the reader’s objections r-i-g-h-t as she begins to ask them to herself. The logical side of the brain is starting to vouch for the emotional side’s purchase decision, so make sure you address these five basic objections she’ll have to buying.

I don’t have the time.

I don’t have enough money.

It won’t work for me.

I don’t believe you.

I don’t really need it.

Bonus points? If you’re writing an end-of-launch sequence email, always, always, ALWAYS include these … and not just on your sales page. These need to get in her inbox, ‘cause they’re important!

Here’s an example from my copywriting services page:

Ashlyn Writes


12. 4 P’s

Fast-tracking your launch? This one nurtures then quickly cuts right to the chase.

Picture: Build up the desire by painting a picture.

Promise: Tell me how you’re going to deliver.

Prove: Show me how others trusted you to do this, and it worked.

Push: Get me to commit.

This formula would work so well for almost any copywriting need: email marketing, Facebook ad copy, webinar pitch, blog post, sales page, and more. It’s pretty easy to remember, too!


14. 3 Reasons

Related to the Give Me 5 is this trio of thoughts. Brian Clark at Copyblogger — he’s so fantastic, y’all — sums it up well:

Why should I buy from you at all when I understand your competition better than you do, and there’s no difference?

Ouch! Tough love. Answer that, and you’re in bidness!


15. Star-Chain-Hook

I’d use this at the beginning of a sales funnel for your new course or product, maybe when you’re introducing the free opt-in or lead-magnet, or maybe the FIRST time you mention your paid offering or course!

I could see this formula being a winner for product descriptions on Etsy, too.

Star: WHAT you’re selling.

Chain: Facts, benefits, reasons, testimonials that lead me to …

Hook: The call to action.


17. Fan Dancer

You know those Vegas showgirls with ostrich plumes stitched together to make big fans and they wave them around mesmerizingly? That’s what this is.

Where can you fan dance in your copy?

Likely your email subject lines.

Dress it up, give some pizzazz, and pique interest without explaining everything away!


18. UPWORDS

Classic copywriter Michel Fortin coined this:

Universal Picture Words or Relatable, Descriptive Sentences.

If you’re going to communicate, analogy, story, and anecdote typically buy your way in. Conjuring imagery is a great way to show your target reader that you’d love to be her Valentine!

Here’s some killer descriptive swipe copy from Marie Forleo’s awesome copywriting class.


19. OATH

Finally, I like this one because a lot of times, you gotta sell someone on something they don’t even know they need.

How do you do that? Take them from Oblivious-Apathetic-Thinking-Hurting. It’s a longer spectrum to dance your audience down, but proof that in time, you can take them from not knowing they even had the issue to realizing that they’re starved for the solution.


Alright, friend: how can I help you draft up copy that converts for your next big trick? Comment below—I would love to help you!

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19 Copywriting Formulas to Drive Formulas- Ashlyn Writes

Freshly sharpened pencil bouquet ready, I'm here to make sure your words sell. I help women like you steward your story well, so you can work from a place of rest—not hustle.

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comments

  1. Scott & Al says:

    So, I have pinned this and am going to use it OVER and OVER and OVER. So much fantastic info here, truly revolutionary. Now I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon running over all your old posts!
    xo-AL

    • Ashlyn Carter says:

      Scott & Al, wow! Thank you so very much! I sure hope it was helpful — please know I’m an email away if you have any post idea that would help you out some more!

  2. Scott & Al says:

    So, I have pinned this and am going to use it OVER and OVER and OVER. So much fantastic info here, truly revolutionary. Now I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon running over all your old posts!
    xo-AL

  3. Scott & Al says:

    So, I have pinned this and am going to use it OVER and OVER and OVER. So much fantastic info here, truly revolutionary. Now I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon running over all your old posts!
    xo-AL

  4. Sofie says:

    Since finding this article I have been using it over and over again. I finally feel like I have some understanding of copywriting. This is a really good article to keep bookmarked. Thank you so much, Ashlyn!

    • Ashlyn Carter says:

      Hi, Sofie! Read this over the weekend and it made my day. 🙂 You are so, SO very welcome. I needed to hear that! Please know that I’d love to hear any other ideas you may have for posts if you’ve ever got a hankering for any other copy/marketing help! hello@ashlynwrites.com 🙂

  5. Joanna says:

    I just found this post on Pinterest, and it’s seriously amazing! Your posts are usually great, but this one is packed full of helpful information. I feel like I took a copywriting course, and I can’t wait to try some of these out. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. peartreepond says:

    Pinned! What an informative article! =) Thank you so much for sharing, Ashlyn! I’ll make sure to try one of those for my new product…

  7. Kathy Tompkins says:

    This is the kind of advice I was looking for! Thank you!

  8. Jenna Christine says:

    *Deletes other things to give pride of place on ‘Bookmarks Bar’*

    So helpful thank you x

  9. helena woods says:

    Just found your pin on Pinterest! Oh how HELPFUL this is! I often have such a problem with copy….thank you thank you Ashlyn! 🙂

    • Oh my stars, Helena, aren’t you kind! I am so glad you found it to be helpful — and don’t forget to check out my Youtube channel, there’s lots there that you might also like! Keep it touch and let me know how it goes! xo.Ash

  10. Chloe Merriott says:

    Hi Ashlyn – I am running my own string quartet and I think No.19 would be really helpful. Could you perhaps give a few example sentences for how you would actually word the O-A-T-H?

    • Hey Chloe! It’s really about taking your readers on a journey, and that’s different for every client. Just be sure you follow the pattern: Oblivious-Apathetic-Thinking-Hurting. And think of it conversationally and in your own context. You’re right, though. A string quartet is DEFINITELY something people may not even know they want/need, but it’s a delightful addition to a wedding or event that really makes an impact! You got this! xo. Ash

  11. Louise says:

    Wow…so incredibly useful. Thank you!

  12. […] The Launch Copy & Content Checklist Freebie → http://bit.ly/2HiRFUV The ✨NEW✨ Primed to Launch™ Playbook to plan your marketing & content calendar ($37) → bit.ly/PtLplaybook My P.A.R.I.S. Copywriting Formula → https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIp6fHt1OQc My EPIC copywriting formulas blog (I’ve updated annually since 2016!) → https://ashlynwrites.com/19-formulas/ […]

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